Gardai fear exodus of top brass over cut to lump sums
GARDAI fear a big exodus of senior officers from the force in the coming months because of planned cuts to their 'lump sums' when they retire.
A significant number of officers, ranging in rank from superintendent to assistant commissioner, have indicated they are currently reviewing their options because of the government cuts.
All of them have already completed 30 years' service and qualify for full pension entitlements.
Worst hit will be superintendent rank where a fifth of the officers in that category are expected to retire early from the force.
The changes are due to come into effect in February and will represent a reduction in their gratuities, or lump sums, of around €10,000.
The move follows a cut of 8pc in their wages in 2009 and a similar reduction in pensions last year.
It is estimated that 20 superintendents will decide to leave and their absence will create a worrying gap in a key rank, the responsibilities of which include control of districts around the country and taking charge of specialist units.
Their ranks have already been depleted by a small number of early retirements and normal wastage as the posts are not being filled because of the ban on recruitment and promotion.
The ban has resulted in little movement in personnel over the past two years and this has left gardai, who had been transferred around the country on promotion, away from their families for lengthy periods.
Several of the superintendents, who have already opted to leave early on full pension, have managed to secure lucrative jobs in the private sector and this is understood to be encouraging others to follow them.
The exodus is also impacting on the higher echelons of the garda organisation, with one assistant commissioner retiring early this week and others known to be contemplating the move while a number of chief superintendents are also considering their positions.
The Government has already indicated that it intends to reduce the overall strength of the force from 14,500 to 13,000 by 2014 but so far they have failed to provide a breakdown of the new rank structures in the slimmed-down organisation.
There are currently 160 superintendents in the organisation and 100 of them have completed 30 years' service.